A Top Ten from the Heart of God

After a good chat with a friend of mine who’s going through a hard time, I started thinking about some of the things I think the Lord might like to say to her, to speak to her heart in the place where she is right now. Oftentimes a word is in season for so many people at once, so I thought I’d share it here.

A Top Ten from the Heart of God…

10. You are so wonderful, so special, and so precious to Me. I knit you together in your mother’s womb, and there is no one else in the universe like you. (Psalm 139:13-14)

9. Before your life even began, I sent my one and only Son to die for you. I did this because I love you. (Ephesians 2:4&5)


8. I know sometimes it feels like I’m a million miles away. But I told you I would never leave you, and I meant it. Even when it feels like no one is with you, I Am. (Hebrews 13:5)

7. Even during this time when you’ve felt so far away, I’ve been with you. I’m always with you. (Matthew 28:20)

6. My darling, you are so beautiful, special and precious to Me. (Song of Solomon 1:15)

5. Even before you went away from Me, I forgave you. (Luke 23:34)

4. I don’t change, and My love for you will never change. (Hebrews 13:8)

3. You don’t have to do anything to earn My love. Please know that My grace is sufficient. In these moments when you are feeling so weak, My strength can be made perfect in you. (2 Cor. 12:9)

2. I miss you. I want to hear you speak again, and I want to see your face again — your voice is so sweet to Me, your face is so lovely to Me. (Song of Solomon 2:14)

1. No matter where you are, no matter how far away you feel, if you search for Me with your heart and soul, you’ll find Me. (Deut 4:29) I want to be found by you. If you look for Me, you’ll find Me. (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens. Your faithfulness, stretches to the skies. Psalm 36:5


This post is a throwback from the archives…

MIA on a Tuesday :: Top Ten on a Wednesday

Hey boys and squirrels. Hope all twenty-seven of you (yeah I think numbers are up!) didn’t miss me too much yesterday. I know it is normally Travelling Tuesday and I normally have some shots to share, but things have been a little busy around here. I’ve repeatedly had people mention to me directly, or indirectly, over the past few days how much they enjoy lists. Not just top tens, but lists in general. So instead of making paragraph-shaped excuses for my absence yesterday, I thought I’d make a Top-Ten List of reasons because that’s almost like giving some of you a gift, and a gift makes way for the giver, which means you’ll hopefully like the gift, forgive me and retweet and Facebook share like it’s nobody’s business. Or at least you’ll come back.

So. Why was I MIA yesterday? Here are the :: Top Ten Things Keeping Me Busy Right Now ::

10.This little man is rounding the corner on age two. Lately people, after asking whether he’s a boy or a girl (I know STILL can you believe it?), comment that he is “busy.” I think he’s chilled and great. But he is an active wee one, and should probably count twice on this top ten list. And all the mamas said Amen.

9. Nausea. Yeah. Good old queasy y’all-sit-still-cos-you’re-rocking-the-boat nausea. It has been SO MUCH BETTER than it was with the Bear, but it is still slowing me down.

8. I’m helping a friend build a website. I can’t send you there yet because it’s not pretty enough. But I’m learning a lot and perhaps before too long things might be looking a little prettier around here!

7. Laundry. Does anyone else ever feel like you got a couple of weeks behind at a busy moment and now you just CAN NOT ever, ever EVER catch up on the laundry? EVER!

6. I’m blogging for Pure Life. I think another post of mine will hit the web over there tomorrow. I’ll paste a link here to let you know for sure. Exciting!

5. Hero Hubs and I have been collecting boxes.

4. And perusing Gum Tree in the evenings. And during the day.

3. And visiting furniture stores. And discussing whether we should be buying cheap as chips or buying with long-term use in mind.

2. And we went to an auction Monday night! We were hoping to score a couch, but we ended up with a rug. What are we doing all this for?

1. Because we’re moving! Yay yay yay yay yay! We found a new place, still in our same lovely neighbourhood, which we’re really happy about. It. Is. Awesome. However, it is UNfurnished, and the place we’re in now is fully furnished. So we are hunting for deals to furnish a big place on a small budget! Whoo-hoo! August 1st or sooner, we’re gonna have a new address!

So that’s all the busyness and whatnot. And today or tomorrow, you can add packing to the list. But probably not till tomorrow because we are celebrating our anniversary today! What’s happening is a surprise — I just know we’re going somewhere overnight, and the Bear is coming with us. Will have to let you know what Hero Hubs has up his sleeve once I find out! 😀

I am looking forward to showing you pictures of the new place! And hoping the Lord will bless me with some design on a dime {or a one rand coin} creativity!

Thanks for your prayers! More to come soon–promise!


The News in a Top Ten

The Bear is now in excess of twenty-two months…he’s practically rounding the corner on the start of his Terrific Twos. And although I’ve done a decent job, I haven’t really hit my target yet, with regard to losing the baby weight I put on while I was pregnant with him. I have some thoughts as to why that is, and I thought I’d share this “How Not to do it” with you, so that if weight loss is on your agenda, you can avoid these common errors. Most of these are personally tried and trusted suggestions to holding onto the Baby Weight for as long as possible.

Top Ten Ways Not to Lose baby Weight

During Pregnancy…

10. Exercise very occasionally. Show your face at the gym just enough for people to begin to know you as “that pregnant lady that occasionally comes in for a swim but looks a lot like Sea World’s Shamu when she hits the water.” If you spend too much time at the gym, you are NOT packing on the pounds you need to accumulate baby weight.

9. Come up with some really good during-pregnancy addictions, and convince yourself they’re healthy snacks. For example, I ate something called Digestive Biscuits while I was pregnant with the Bear. They are basically cookies perfect for dipping in a cup of tea, and they’re coated with chocolate on one side. But since they have digestive in the title, it seems to me that they qualify as a healthy snack. Break a couple of those bad larries into a cup of low-fat yoghurt. As long as you’re convinced, who’s to argue? You’re pregnant!

8. Take “eating for two” as literally as possible. When those pregnancy books try to tell you that you only need an additional 500 calories or so, you just show them the door! It’s the wooden thing with the knob, Pregger Book! You need to pack on calories to make sure your baby is getting all the nutrients he or she needs! Remind anyone who tries to tell you otherwise it’s your baby and you need to do what you think is best.

7. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that a healthier, fitter Mom is likely to have an easier pregnancy and the baby is more likely to cope through the stress of the delivery. That’s just stuff people say because they don’t want you to get too fat. But if you follow these rules during pregnancy, you’ll be just like me when I was full term with the Bear: in need of a reversing signal if I backed up in a room full of people.

After Pregnancy…

6. If you’re breastfeeding, you have every excuse to continue to intake ridiculous amounts of calories — don’t let giving birth slow you down. Passing on that nourishment on to the little one makes you hungry! Grab a fork! Or a pie!

5. Even after your body has fully recovered from labour, why not give it just a little longer? The baby’s only six months old. You carried it for nine months — surely you need a little more of a break before you hit the gym again.

4. Once you finally do hit the gym again, skip your workout for any and every reason you can think of. Do you feel like you might maybe be coming down with something? Working out is the worst thing you can do. Has your child or spouse come down with something? Well that’s a good enough reason for you to take a breather, too. When opportunity presents itself: Skip the workout. Your baby weight will thank you.

3. Let the busyness of life dictate how often you get exercise, and how healthily you cook and eat. Has a been a long day? Hit the drive-thru. Need an extra perk in the afternoon? A 370 calorie Caramel Macchiato will do the trick. Disclaimer: I can’t say I’ve personally tried this Keep-Your-Baby-Weight method, but I feel confident if you follow it, you’ll see results.

2. Don’t let the fact that you’re still wearing maternity clothes discourage you. Don’t let the fact that people notice what you’re wearing and ask when you’re expecting deter you. You can maintain the steadfast resolution to keep the baby weight as long as you want, as long as your willpower is in tact, and your trousers are looped shut with a rubber band. It’s your baby weight and no one else’s!

1. Last but not least, this is hands-down the very best way to hinder the success of kicking those last few pounds of Baby Weight to the curb. It is a personally tried and tested method, and I’m already beginning to experience the benefits right now. The number one way to keep the baby weight? Get pregnant again.

Scroll down to see the illustrative photo which, if viewed too early, would ruin the surprise…


Top Ten Reasons My Brother Rocks and Might be a Superhero

The Bear is learning a new word this week. Well, he seems to be picking up at least one new word everyday. Today, he said “Poo-oo” and patted his diaper. He was graciously indicating that he had indeed pooped again. It was the second of four healthy, albeit rather small poops produced by the Bear for my cleaning pleasure today. Why four tiny ones, Bear, why? I digress. There are better words the Bear is learning.

He is working on G.C. for my Mom (he can say the two separately but can’t quite get them together yet), Gammy for Mark’s Mom, and he has the “Doe” of Dodi down for my sister. I can’t wait for him to get her name because I think it’ll be really cute and look forward to her hearing it on Skype. (In case you’re wondering, he’s been saying “Gunh-Guh” for both his grandpas for a while now.) We are working on mastering “Russ” now for another very special reason, which you will discover, as you enjoy this special Top Ten.

Top Ten Reasons My Brother Rocks (And Might be a Superhero)

10. He taught me how to read. That is just ace. Three degrees later, I think he got me off to super start!

He sneaks the Bear away to share superhero secrets...

9. He used to sneak me cookies and milk at bedtime when I wasn’t supposed to have any because I didn’t eat all my vegetables. He had to be a superhero to be so sneaky!

8. He has a job that has him out and about in the city of Atlanta, and he works a lot in hospitals. Superheroes always live in big cities and are nearby when people need help.

7. He has a sidekick named Logan. It’s okay that Logan is a friendly, big-headed yellow lab named after a University Football coach. You go with what works for your character.

6. For years we had a tradition of doing all of his Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve together. You’ve gotta be a superhero to pull that off.

5. He’s a congenial and very likable character. Superheroes are always the nice, unassuming, friendly guy you didn’t expect.

4. The last time I was home, he drove up from Atlanta just to visit for a couple of days and see his little nephew again. Okay, so he didn’t use magic powers to fly up to North Carolina, but it was still pretty super.

3. Kids always seem to love him. He even handles it well when they colour on his white couch. Kids love superheroes.

2. I’m pretty confident he could stop a speeding bullet. At least once.

1. He and his girlfriend, Erin, are coming to visit us NEXT MONTH during the World Cup! He might be using a plane to make the long flight, but coming to visit your baby sister a half-a-world away is a wonderful enough thing to earn you a cape and some tights! Especially if you bring chocolate chips.

So that’s the good news, and that’s why Bear is practicing his “Russ” right now. Although it’s a bit more of a “Ruh” at the moment, I feel confident he’ll have it before Uncle Russ swoops in to save the day. Metaphorically speaking. The other good news is that I’m eating my veggies these days, (can you believe it? If you’ve known me more than a few years you probably can’t!) and no sneaking of cookies and milk will be required. (Although the Bear might not mind a snack.)

Looking forward to your arrival, Erin and Super-Bro!


Dear Little Bear OR Last Week’s Top Ten

Dear Bear Bear,

We had a really special week last week. I decided to record it here on my blog so that perhaps ten years from now you can come back and read it and laugh with me. I like doing Top Ten Lists, which probably makes no sense to you right now, but at least the other readers can enjoy it in the meantime.*

These were the Top Ten Special Moments we had with special little you, just last week.

10. You decided to stop going in your dishwasher box play house to use your pretend cell phone. Instead you walked around the house holding it to your ear and saying Hey-low? Hay-yo? Hay-low? It was a new week’s worth of evidence to your Mom and Dad that you’re pretty much a genius.

"Have you run the numbers yet? Well then I'm gonna have to get back to you on that."

9. I was feeling sick on Thursday and stayed in bed most of the day. When your Dad got you up from your nap, you walked right into my bedroom, waved your tiny hand at me, and said “Hey!” It was the highlight of my day.

8. You yawned in my face one night and it was the first time I’d ever smelled you have bad breath. It was very endearing and sweet, fortunately. I feel like a Mom for remembering and appreciating that.

7. You decided to give a glass full of very red drink a good shake, and it managed to creatively decorate one little sleeve of your white long sleeve top. It also managed to creatively decorate my prayer journal.

6. And the floor and my grocery receipts.

5. Oh yeah, and my laptop.

4. You learned to sign “sorry” last week, and although developing this knowledge was unrelated to the previously mentioned incidents, it has been really precious to see you say you’re sorry when you do something you shouldn’t. If there’s anything folks need to learn how to say, it’s I’m sorry, so I think you’re off to a good start. What’s really delightful is that you often sign it with both hands at the same time, so I think you’re indicating that you’re really sorry. Good Bear!

3. I have no idea why, but you had copious amounts of gas last week. Your Dad and I found it hilarious, and once you realised that, I think you decided to keep tooting as much as you could just for the laughs. At least the gas didn’t make you unpleasant. It sure was funny.

It Wasn't Me

2. You gave me a fat lip last week. WWF style. I mean you really tackled me with a head butt and I had to get up and walk away to overcome the urge to cry at my throbbing lip. Man, you’re growing up fast!

1. You woke up from two naps super grumpy, which is unusual for you, but you decided the best way to overcome those grump-grumps was to let me hold you and rub your back. You never sit still with me for that long unless we’re reading or watching Veggie Tales! I was teary-eyed enjoying those special moments with your little head resting on my chest. I’m glad you’re not a grumpy bear, but I sure don’t mind getting to cuddle you for a while!

All in all, Bear Bear, it was a pretty special week. And even though you almost killed my MacBook, I’ve never loved you more. Thanks for bringing our lives so much sparkle!

Lots of Love,

*The other readers might also be happy to know my MacBook is up and running again! Hooray!

How To Make Your Blog More Like a Site OR Why To Use the Thesis Theme

I’ve been asked by a few folks about starting a blog and making it more like a website. I don’t think the majority of you my dear readers are interested in this type of post, so I promise it won’t become a regular occurence! I just thought I’d share a sort of Top Ten for folks interested in turning their blog into something a little more like a website, a little less like every other blog on the block.  I’ll start by saying I have a longgg… way to go before I’m there, so I’m planning to point you to other websites for examples!

For those of you readers who aren’t into blogging yourselves but would like to comment on what you’re looking for in a site, I’d love some feedback! And I think the other readers would too…so speak up!

My Top Ten Tips for Making Your Blog More Like a Site

(Note: I always count down the top ten, so if you want to read the most important tips, scroll down!)

10. Skip the tag cloud. Unless you’ve got a customized, pretty tag cloud like say, the nester for example, it’s probably a good idea to skip the tag cloud. It isn’t the most attractive or functional use of space, and I don’t know that a lot of readers will peruse your posts in that format.

9. Keep your sidebar consistent. See how my sidebar over there is a big old mess? That’s a no-no. I’m working on it. If you can keep your sidebar attractive and simple, your blog feels less like a mess and more like a nice, clean, inviting space. (Homework: Check out grit and glory’s sidebar. Clean and simple. The Nester has a nice, clean sidebar, too. She’s in design, she knows what she’s doing!)

8. Customize your nav bar. See my boring old navigation bar that’s been that way ever since I started this site? If I didn’t have meals to cook, laundry and a toddler, I would’ve improved it for you a long time ago. Taking the time to customize that little bit of your site will help you stand out from the crowd. (Homework: Check out MckMama’s nav bar – the picture one. I mean she’s MckMama and she can do whatever she wants, but it’s good.)

7. Learn how to google. And google often. A lot of the things you need to know to improve your site can be found on the internet, if you spend a few minutes googling. (That’s probably how you ended up here. Well done!)

6. Consider making your home page slightly different from the page a person will view if they go directly to a particular post or any of your other site pages. Depending on the purpose of your site, this could mean your readers can enjoy a uniquely inviting home page (perhaps with teasers of full posts, for example) and choose where they want to go once they arrive. (Homework: See how Mashable’s home page invites you in with multiple posts to choose from? Teasers might be just the thing for you!)

5. This is big. That’s why it’s long. Customize your look. If your blog has the same layered, paisley, flowery background as every other Mom-blog in the blogosphere, it’s a good idea to work on customizing your site to help it stand out. Otherwise folks passing through will think it is just like every other layered, paisley Mommy blog, (Which it’s not! It’s yours!) and they won’t remember your URL and won’t come back.

If you want to get serious about your customization. You are pretty limited with what you can do to make your site unique if you are working with previously designed templates for wordpress or blogger, or if you’re not a web designer yourself. (I’m not an expert on this, but this is what I have gathered so far.)

I decided to use the Thesis Theme for wordpress, and so far I’m very glad I did. There is A LOT you can do if you upgrade to this theme to instantly customize your site. I started out with NO knowledge of website building, and have made the series of changes you’ve seen around this place to get it this far. The appearance of my site may not convince you that Thesis is worth it, but really, I’ve enjoyed figuring out how to customize using Thesis, and so far for me Thesis + knowing how to Google = serious website upgrades. They regularly upgrade and increase functionality, and the Thesis help community is also pretty outstanding.  If you’re thinking about purchasing Thesis and have questions, leave a comment and I’ll try to help!

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community

And if you do decide to purchase Thesis, please come back and click here to do so — the kickback will help support our ministry here in South Africa!

4. Come up with a good theme and URL to match. I just went with my name because I think it has a nice ring to it, and it felt right at the time. Right or wrong? I dunno. But it’s good to give your blog a name that’s easy to remember (and easy to google) to keep your fans coming back. Along these lines, you might want to consider self-hosting your blog (I use Dreamhost, for example) so that you can be www.soandso.com instead of www.soandso.wordpress.com. Because the latter feels bloggy, the former feels serious. Don’t ya think?

3. Clean up!!! A good sign of a good site is having a clean, inviting space to welcome people into. It’s kind of like going into someone’s home. If it’s too busy or too messy, you don’t really feel like staying very long. Considering my busy, messy sidebar, I’m impressed you made it to #3!! (Homework: Check out my friend Adam’s blog. He has a really clean, well-organized site that just matches and agrees with itself nicely. See? You want to come in and stick around for a while.)

2. Use GOOD pictures and graphics. This really enhances the look and feel of your site. I would strongly encourage you to obey copyright laws — don’t steal images. There are a number of good, free websites where you can find decent stock photos to go along with your posts. Honestly, if I come to a blog with a series of posts and it’s all words and no images, I feel daunted and want to move on. Images invite readers into the space and quickly grab attention.

1. Customize your header. This has to be number one! It is the first thing people are going to see when they arrive at your site. If it is boring, doesn’t have any interest, or looks like everybody else’s … well, that’s okay, but it makes it a blog and not a site. I have to mention again that thesis made it really easy for me to customize my header. I designed it myself (what do you think?) and with one upload and a bit of copying and pasting it was on board.

So, those are some basics for making your blog more like a site. Question away, feel free to disagree, and be sure to check out some of the other sites I mentioned that are WAY further along in the game than I am. 🙂

And a little more homework if you’re interested: Check out some of these awesome sites, by folks who customized using Thesis!

Can you really argue with Krispy Kreme?
Copyblogger’s site is a great example of the significant amount of customization possible with Thesis.
Serradinho’s site is also seriously customized. (And can give you lots of help if you decide to buy.)